Executive shares secrets of Kollmorgen's success

In the first event of the 2013 COBE 150 Speaker Series, an executive of manufacturer Kollmorgen on Tuesday shared an inside look at the company's guiding principles.

Andrew McCauley, vice president for business development, introduced his audience to Kollmorgen and its quest for continual improvement in the competitive global market as well as the system that powers it. In a fast-paced hourlong presentation he covered a number of topics including mergers and acquisitions, operations at a local Kollmorgen subsidiary and "kaizen," the Japanese concept of continual improvement.

Kollmorgen, with three facilities and more than 700 employees in Radford, makes customized, high-performance motor and control technology used in a variety of applications and industries, among them health care, defense, packaging and printing. It is one of many companies owned by Danaher Corp., an $18 billion diversified science and technology concern based in Washington, D.C.

"Kaizen is our way of life, a fundamental belief that we can always be better," said McCauley, who joined the company as a regional sales representative and now is charged with acquiring new companies to complement Kollmorgen's aggressive growth objectives. "It is a culture and environment that encourages that we always strive to get better."

At the individual level, McCauley spoke to the students in his audience about translating that focus into their individual careers: "Deliver on results, and you will get the opportunity and support to grow personally and professionally."

To illustrate the achievement-driven culture of Kollmorgen, McCauley recalled that his first challenge to a member who joins his team is to find his or her replacement, because the organization needs to be continually recruiting and developing talent to meet its growth targets. McCauley described the central principle as "exceptional people developing and executing outstanding plans." He added that superior performance and high expectations attract exceptional people, who continue the cycle. This is all part of a comprehensive Danaher business system that integrates Kollmorgen and its many corporate cousins.

He encouraged individuals to look at the gaps in their individual skill sets and develop in those areas as opposed to just doing what comes easily or naturally. Helping individuals grow enables the company to grow—one of the core beliefs of Kollmorgen's culture. That belief, McCauley said, drives a perpetual cycle of improvement in quality, delivery, cost and innovation.

About his own job now, he said, "It is to find the next set of companies to bolt onto our portfolio. We are looking into companies in a variety of geographies and markets that can augment our portfolio and give us access to higher growth, more attractive end markets."

High-growth regions like China, Brazil and Eastern Europe are just a few areas of focus.  McCauley is a regular visitor to China, where he faces cultural and business challenges. "The game is different there, and it is played differently," he said of the Chinese manufacturing power. "The indigenous competitors have no fear of Western competition."

McCauley took the audience of both business and non-business students through the financial benchmarking and metrics by which Kollmorgen evaluated its marketplace and competition in the quest to improve its performance.  He also explained the organization's priorities and portfolio shifts in an effort to drive consistent, profitable revenue growth.

Feb 19, 2013
Don Bowman
(540) 831-7523